27 Aug 2016

Hundreds oppose Wgtn runway extension plan

3:09 pm on 27 August 2016

Hundreds of people have lodged opposition to the proposed extension of Wellington airport's runway.

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Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

A summary of 776 submissions made on the the airport's application for a resource consent shows more than two-thirds are against.

Airlines, residents' associations and hundreds of individuals do not want a bar of the extension.

Recreational fishing enthusiasts said they were not consulted, and cray catchers said the exclusion zone around the construction site was excessive.

"There are twenty or more commercial pots regularly set in the general area proposed to be closed to fishing during and after construction with an estimated daily value of $2600 and seasonal value of $89,000/tonne," Power Squadron Marine Management's submission said.

"Applicant makes no provision to address the impact."

Many submitters cited environmental concerns, construction noise and the cost of the project.

Some also pointed to tourism as a so-called "false friend" which "increases the proportion of low-wage jobs".

They were also aware of the Airline Pilots' Association's concerns about emergency stopping areas on the runway.

The Court of Appeal recently fast tracked the pilots union's legal challenge on the matter because of its relevance to the resource consent process.

Both Qantas and Air New Zealand opposed the project, along with the Board of Airline Representatives.

Qantas' submission summarised that while there may be possible economic benefits, "over-investment in infrastructure is likely to result in higher ticket prices in the medium term which could reduce demand and have negative economic impacts".

Those in favour particularly cited the opportunities for economic growth.

Submitters included Chambers of Commerce and tourism development groups from Marlborough through to Hawke's Bay.

It also included local icons such as Weta Workshop and the World of Wearable Arts.

Tertiary education providers, WelTec, Whitireia and Victoria University support the extension and hope it will help them take a larger share of the international student market.

Berl's (Business and Economic Research Ltd) submission is notable for its support of the Sapere cost-benefit analysis which it called credible.

It said InterVISTAS' passenger forecasts, which were discredited by airlines, were accurate or conservative.

Wellington's port operator CentrePort said the spoil from dredging the harbour could be used for filling in the runway.

The submissions will be heard by the Environment Court as part of the resource consent process.